A quiet girl sits next to me in one of my classes. She does not raise her hand often, but when she does, she always says something intelligent. We started talking one day when the professor was a minute late, and after a few weeks of whispered conversations in class, she sent me a friend request on Facebook. I accepted. All of a sudden, my newsfeed was flooded with her Facebook statuses. She had posted three that day, including a picture of her dog in one of the updates. Could this be my same reserved and shy friend? Maybe her Facebook was hacked. These posts were not just announcements of mundane activities like “Class” or “Yay the weekend!” Her updates were her personal thoughts and ideas on current events, homework assignments, and hobbies. Many of these posts were hilarious and of course had many “likes.” Some were just typed in capital letters and exclamation points. My friend yelling? This alone was funny. The professor often asks her to repeat what she said because he cannot hear her.
What is the nature of the discrepancy between how my friend acts in class and how she portrays herself on the Internet? My first thought was simply that I do not know this girl well enough. Maybe she just isn’t funny at 9:00 in the morning during statistics. Maybe if I hung out with her outside of class, I would realize how entertaining she is.
My second thought was maybe she isn’t funny on the spot. She could not do standup comedy. Her type of comedy is a thought-out; she plans before she posts online. However, this idea sounded a bit lame. Who plans out their Facebook statuses before posting, let alone proofreading? No one.
The real answer to this question is that my friend has an alter ego. On the Internet she is a different person than she is in class. I like both her personalities, the quiet one and the funny one, but can’t they co-exist? Can someone be quietly funny or are those two traits irreconcilable? More importantly, if they are so separate, how come she chooses to be quiet in person and hilarious on the Internet and not the other way around? People who make others laugh can do well in school. Being quiet is not required to get good grades.
I go back to my original statement. My friend has an alter ego. She purposely keeps the quiet part of her personality separated from the funny part of her personality. She enjoys being loud, crazy, and funny on Facebook, simply because she can. It can be exciting to show off a different part of ourselves on the Internet because it is so easy to do. It is comparable to taking out a book from the library because the book can always be returned. In essence, my friend has borrowed a new personality that she only has online access to. If and when she gets bored of this ego, she can always return it.
Nonetheless, my friend clearly has a natural ability to be funny. Why doesn’t she bring her talent into the classroom? Instead of returning this ego, she should purchase it with full access on and off the Internet. I already like her when she is quiet, while her posts on Facebook are some of the best in my newsfeed. I have literally “liked” many of her updates. Why not put two good things together?
I finally asked my friend about the different life she lives on the Internet. What did she respond? “Just wait ‘til you follow me on Twitter. I want to become a professional comedy blogger.” Figures.